ADHD assessment

ADHD Symptoms and Diagnosis

Determining whether or not a child has ADHD is a multi-step process. This page will provide you with an overview of how ADHD is diagnosed. There is no single test to diagnose ADHD, and many other problems, such as sleep disorders, anxiety, depression, and certain types of learning disabilities, can have symptoms that are similar to ADHD.

If you are concerned that your child may have ADHD, the first step is to consult with a healthcare provider to see if the symptoms match the diagnosis. A mental health professional, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist, or a primary care provider, such as a pediatrician, can make the diagnosis.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that healthcare providers inquire about the child's behavior in various settings, such as at home, school, or with peers, from parents, teachers, and other adults who care for the child. Learn more about the suggestions.

The healthcare provider should also determine whether the child has another condition that can either better explain the symptoms or occurs concurrently with ADHD. Find out more about other issues and conditions.

How is ADHD identified?

To diagnose ADHD, healthcare providers follow the guidelines in the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fifth Edition (DSM-5)1. This diagnostic standard aids in ensuring that people with ADHD are properly diagnosed and treated. Using the same standard across communities can also help determine how many children have ADHD and how this condition affects public health.